We are collecting stories on the site because we think it's important to have a way to people to add their voice to this issue by sharing their story. It's puts a human voice to the issues with using technology and automating systems and providing a blanket solution without providing staff and people that can right wrongs and help people when there is an error.
Please share your story with us if you have a Centrelink debt story that you believe has been issued in error or due to a fault in the system.
As frustrating as it is, persist with the appeals process, and know others are behind you.
Stories are 100% anonymous
I was given a $6000 debt for a financial year I ONLY earnt $14000! I appealed, sent all bank statements, tax etc paperwork.. still waited since last year for a result! Last week I get a letter asking for $18900!! I literally shook and cried and vomited all weekend.
About a year ago I also received a Robodebt notice that I owed about $5.5k in total from two financial years, from 2014 to 2016. I had lodged my tax return and received my FTB as a lump sum on both of those years. Four phone calls to Centrelink later, I was told that they had made a coding error and they would sort it out for me.
I received youth allowance alongside studying and part-time work. I finished studying last year and headed out into the workforce, whilst paying my taxes and chipping away at my HECS I received a debt notice. This was incredibly disheartening, I felt incredibly stressed and ultimately misled by a system I once saw as a support.
I got my first letter just after I moved overseas to study my Masters. It had been years since I had received Youth Allowance so I didn't even have a proxy set up and had to call from overseas. I had to set one up on a visit back to Australia.
I'm 22 and have never been employed. I'm not sure how to explain this or convey myself through this but here goes nothing.
I felt very stressed, it affected my everyday life!
I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t sleep. It affected my work where I have to be alert. I felt like I was a criminal when I did nothing wrong.
During 2014 I became partnered, I already had a toddler and chaotic lifestyle, despite this i notified centrelink when I become pregnant with my second son. I was chronically sick with HG during this pregnancy and made 2 attempts to rectify the wrong payment. This overpayment was ongoing until 2017.
I have made so many complaints about this, and I am seriously considering ending my own life as a result of this, not just because of the debt, but how Centrelink have handed this
Am utterly broken. Two disabled kids whose therapy I already can't afford. I'm immune supressed with bacterial infection in my tooth that could kill me, and I can't afford to get it removed. My car needs repairs.
We filled in paperwork correctly, as a defacto relationship. Centrelink failed to tick the box that said we were in a defacto relationship so were paying my partner single father payments. They admitted our debt was caused by an admin error by Centrelink, yet we still have to pay the money back, because we accepted the money in good faith!
So much frustration and anxiety.
I am lucky that mine was dealt with (mostly) in a short period of time but that is only due to my persistence.
It was keeping me up at night, making me wait around, constantly retelling the same story with no outcome.
I'm a Masters student living in Melbourne only just surviving on the money I earn to buy everything. I received a letter from Centrelink last month saying that I owed $3700 from 2 years ago.
Huge anxiety single parent with two children one with a disability, contacted Local member of parliament was given telephone number of local Manager of Centrelink, very polite, but still said pay your debt or else...
I received a payment that I was not expecting on the 25th Dec from a past job. This payment was reversed as soon as the office reopened (Christmas break). Centrelink payment stopped in January as found new job. I am stressing over having to pay back an imaginary debt. I also don’t know how I am to declare ‘earnings’ over Christmas!
Not sleeping ,,,, anxiety ,,, worrying as haven’t been on Newstart for 3 years !!!!!
I worked in mental health since 2006. I live with Bipolar, PTSD and Dissassociative disorder. In 2011 I had to stop work as I was fighting a 12 month long depressive episode. I was actively suicidal and ended up hospitalised.
I received this debt more than a year after starting my current job after providing payslips on request after a call informing me I had a $400 "provisional debt".
I was ordered to pay over $14000 in June 2019 for debts from 2014-2015. I believe these figures are very incorrect.
The letters you receive do not give any information why and they just demand your hard working dollars that are already spent on taxes and HECS.
I got this debt a few years ago and they reckon I owed them money because at the time I was on parenting payment partnered n they said my partner earned 60000 in 2 years n I stated less... but my partner at that time was on sickness benefit for almost a year waiting for surgery so he couldn't have enered that.
Anxious, and getting no help from the people I speak with at centrelink.
Worried I won't be able to afford to pay bills if they win
A random phone call from the Centrelink compliance team in early February advised me that I had not reported my income while receiving Austudy in 2013 and 2014 which had resulted in a $4000 debt. This was a complete shock to me as I had always reported, and I had always been so careful to report the correct amounts.
I too have fallen victim to the Robo-debt Scam, with Centrelink attempting to recover $12,000 from me. This news came in the same week as losing my part-time job. I received the letter asking me to review my income for the periods 2014-19.
I returned home from UK after attending my dad's funeral to be inundated with emails adding if this debt.
It had been a really stressful time anyway but this nearly pushed me over the edge.
We're parents of three kids, two of them are autistic and the third has mild intellectual delay, we've been caring for them ( me and my wife) since 2014, never worked since then also we have our own medical issues. Our only income was the the government's benefits.
Wife and I incurred 2 debts each for working at the same 2 companies at the same time, for the same amount of pay.
Wife has never worked due to disability.
I apparently earned $1300 per week for 6 months at a stainless steel factory. Same with my wife.